Greetings from the Chair

Let’s begin by sharing a wee deoch an doris* to 2020.

Just about every person on planet earth had their world turned upside down this past year. Everywhere are constant reminders of trials, changes and uncertainty. It’s been said that the human race learns at the speed of pain. What is particularly challenging is that we have enjoyed a long run of unprecedented prosperity and our resilience has not been tested at this level or intensity for decades. As unsettling and disruptive as this “new normal” is, we are now seeing the fledgling beginnings of adaptation and change on the back side of trying times.

We will get through this and come out the other side wiser and stronger. This cycle is as old as civilization itself. It’s what we humans do; suffer, survive, adapt and thrive. When considering all this I cannot help but think of the Highland Scots, and in particular, the life and death struggles of our Gregor ancestors as they lived through and rose above centuries of terrible tragedies.

This summer I read Flight of the Highlanders: The Making of Canada by author Ken McGoogan. (See book review on page 18) In it I found illustrations of our ability to endure brutal oppression, overcome overwhelming odds and build new lives in changed and often unimaginable circumstances. As punishing as the historical facts are, the book is inspiring and helpful in providing useful insights into the human cycle of suffer, survive, adapt and thrive. There are portable lessons to help us visualize change and inspire positive outcomes arising from massive disruption. These are our ancestors speaking to us through the shrouds of history.

And speaking of ancestors, and in keeping with working through challenges faced by Clan Gregor, I want to share the MacGregor Prayer as it speaks to the faith of the immigrant; faith that a better world awaits. Faith is often described as believing when common sense tells you not to. Faith in a grand sense is simply an unshakeable belief in a positive force constantly leading to a better end. Faith can be found in many places and in many variations. Each year the Clan Gregor Society has a small ceremony at Rob Roy’s grave at the Balquhidder kirk to commemorate not only Rob’s tenacity and legacy, but achievements of the entire Clan. I was going through my Gregor files and found this prayer in the program for the August 31st, 1997 memorial service. The source or author is not shown and it is only noted as traditional.  As you read through this, I encourage you to insert creator, higher power, life source, or any other inspiration that resonates. 

I share this with you in hopes that you will find in it some of the strength and courage needed to chart your course through the inevitable challenges of the year ahead.

Turning to a quick review of Clan Gregor Canada Chapter activity in 2020, I’m happy to report that we are well and in good shape. We have just gone over the 70 active member mark and are well represented across Canada including a few US members who have roots in Canada. This means that in seven years we have reached out to and attracted an average of 10 new Gregors a year. Imagine 50 years from today!

We started 2020 with an early highlight in the presentation of our Scholarship Award to Jenna Woods at the Rob Roy Pipe Band Burns Dinner in January. Little did we know that this was to be the last of formal Chapter activity of the year. This presentation is covered elsewhere in this issue. I am especially grateful for the work June MacGregor Jain (Chapter Council) and Al McGregor put into the Scholarship selection committee as education remains one of the Society’s top priorities. 

As the year unfolded and all of the traditional events on the Scottish calendar were cancelled one by one, Bill Petrie and Sylvie Theriault, Chapter Council and Editors, worked on a project to bring a virtual Highland Game experience to the Scottish community. For many, lock down and social distancing meant they would not experience the touchstones of a live pipe band, dance competition or the taste of meat pies for at least a year. Bill’s work on this virtual project allowed us to experience some of these venues without really being there. He continues to cement our relationship with CASSOC (Clans and Scottish Societies of Canada) and its influence in the larger Scottish diaspora in Canada, as well as working on virtual experience projects and meetings that CASSOC is undertaking.

For my part it has been a busy year for inquiries. In spite of no physical presence at the games where we typically meet seekers, I have answered many questions and sent out a variety of materials and information. My suspicion is that people are more engaged than ever with increased time and resources to invest in genealogical research. In this work I am grateful for assistance from Keith MacGregor, North American Council Rep and Peter Lawrie, Vice Chair. In summary it is a bonny team we have on Council and I could not properly support the work of the Society without their help. Thank you all!

Perhaps the best way to gauge our efforts can be found in our growing list of new members. This year it gives me great pleasure to welcome the following to the Clan Gregor Society and to its Canada Chapter:

  • Echlin Greer
  • Alex Greer
  • Joel Donald McGregor
  • Deborah Bedard
  • Michael Petrie
  • David Petrie
  • Andrew Petrie
  • Alex Petrie
  • Louise Shane
  • Kevin Thomas McGregor

I’ll close by wishing you all a safe, prosperous and meaningful transition to 2021. While there is a lot of uncertainty, there’s also ample opportunity. Recall the lessons of the past and embrace the faith of our immigrant forefathers.

Take time this year to celebrate and be grateful for all we hold dear. Reach out to help someone in need. 

Thank you for your support and interest in the Society. It is my pleasure to serve you in your search for the history and heritage of Clan Gregor. Along the way we’ll have some fun and raise our glasses in a toast to fellowship. 

Yours aye,

Wayne MacGregor Parker                                    

 

 

From the Editors

Greeting fellow Gregors,

In a recent conversation with our Scottish Studies associates at the University of Guelph we used the imagery of being at the apogee of this cycle of trying times.  As we're turning to come back to normalcy it is the better future days approaching that fill our view.   Hence the underlying theme in articles such as Scots and Gregors in Canada, The Kings Jaunt and the Flight of the Highlanders Book Review.

Our thanks to Keith MacGregor by way of our Great Lakes Sister Chapter for his great articles about the King's Jaunt and the important Dalmally Stones project.  We Gregors go through great darkness and hard times with the resulting benefits of strength and tenacity.  A great example of such,  literally, is shown in the Tales of Wild Duncan as so well researched by CGS founding member Elizabeth McDonald.  

The brightest lights we're now seeing are exemplified by the New Gregors, Scholarship Award and the Gregors in the News.   Please feel free to share your stories and images of success and coming joy by sending them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Lastly the world goes on and we Gregors endure.  Though our Gathering is deferred we're pushing ahead with a Canadian Facebook presence and with CGS evolving to be an SCIO. Please, please get your membership rolled over to the SCIO if you've not done so already.

Enjoy!

Yours Aye

Sylvie and William

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2022 CGS International Gathering Update

2022 Gathering Update from Scotland 

Highland Tour

We regret to announce that, due to the anticipated impact of Covid-19 throughout next year and it’s effect on travel and tourism, the Society has decided to postpone the Highland Tour until 2023. We will continue to strive for the best value for money and will keep everyone advised on next steps, both individually and via the website. – Members have the option of requesting a refund of their deposit or keeping it in the tour fund for 12 months longer.

Tour Two option; Edinburgh & the Scott Country 

Plans are still on for the tour but we will be carefully monitoring the Covid-19 situation and related travel restrictions throughout 2021 and keep you informed of developments. No tour deposits are required at this time. Should you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Keith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Summary

Highland Tour postponed until 2023. Contact Ross at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions.

Edinburgh Tour still on. Contact Keith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Please continue to view the website for updates and keep well. We look forward to a fabulous Highland Tour in due course. 

 

Book Review - Flight of the Highlanders

Flight of the Highlanders: The Making of Canada by author Ken McGoogan.

Hardcover, 368 pages - Published September 2019 by Patrick Crean Editions; HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

This is a good book for all Canadians of Scottish decent to read. What sets this book apart from so many well documented accounts is that it goes beyond the clearances, crosses the ocean, and follows the struggles of these wretched souls as they overcome enormous challenges carving out a life and a country here in Canada.

In many instances the author brings the story of their descendants right into the present day. A word of caution though: it is deeply disturbing to fully grasp the dire circumstances under which our ancestors and many others came to Canada. I felt frustration and outright anger at the treatment of these poor people.

The book is divided into three tracks. The first provides a good overview of what was going on in Scotland that led up to the Clearances. The debacle of the failed ’45 with Bonnie Prince Charlie and its ramifications is well developed and sets the stage for the destruction of the clan system and the complete corruption of a number of chiefs as they abdicated their duties of protection and support in favour of material gain. This set the stage for the Clearances. It was at this point in the book that my ire began to rise.

The second track deals directly with the forced evictions of poor crofters who had lived for hundreds, if not thousands, of years subsisting on these lands under the collective protection of clan. Heart rending after heart rending account, well supported with direct quotes, tell the stories of widespread brutality at the hands of absentee landlords wishing to improve the financial returns on their lands by forcefully removing people to make room for sheep. They were loaded onto coffins ships with nothing more than the shirt on their backs and then off-loaded at unknown destinations without resources or support. There is one particularly brutal account of the forced eviction of a Gregor as witnessed by Donald Ross.

“Margaret McGregor, aged forty-seven years, was the wife of William Ross, tenant, Greenyard. This poor woman met with savage treatment at the hands of the police. She wanted to reason with the sheriff on the impropriety of is conduct, because Mr. Munro, the tacksman, had denied all knowledge of the warrants of his removal. The answer she got was a blow on the shoulder, and then another on the left ear with a baton. That blow was so violent that it cut up the gristle of the ear, breaking the skull and shattering the temporal and sphenoid bones. Result: concussion and compression of the brain. The blow was so forceful that it knocked the poor woman to the ground and caused blood to flow copiously from both ears.

Even after she was on the ground, the police struck her with their batons, and with their feet; and then left her with her head in a pool of blood. Donald Ross could not see the smallest hope of recovery. She was the mother of seven helpless children, and when he saw the poor little things going backwards and forwards, “toddling” around her sick bed, looking with sorrow at her death-like visage, he felt his heart break. The few sentences which the poor woman managed to speak went clearly to show that she had been barbarously treated. Ross’s firm conviction was that she was as cruelly murdered as if a policeman had shot her on the links at Tain.”

At this point my blood, my Highland blood, began to boil. At the outset, the author correctly draws attention to the fact that under the current United Nations definition, these people were not immigrants; they were refugees. In today’s terms, their treatment would indisputably be characterized as ethnic cleansing.

The final track deals with what happened to these poor souls once they landed in the new world. Unfortunately, in all too many cases, more of the same in the form of poor treatment, exploitation and abuse. Shamefully, the history of mankind reveals a pattern of man’s inhumanity to man and the struggle of haves and have nots.

The Highlander refugee has to fight for every break against overwhelming odds. McGoogan does a good job of taking the reader through a number of the divisive and often abusive situations they had to work through to get established here in the new world. The emphasis in this final section is centered on how these resilient folks succeeded in stabilizing their lives enough to begin to live again.

In this final section my mood at last transitioned from outright anger, through pity, and on to hope. Eventually their fortunes start to improve as homes and communities are established and institutions based on democratic principles are upheld. It was here that hope blossomed into pride as one begins to see the formation of Canada and the profound effect the mass of Scottish refugees have had on the shaping of our country and its unique and very Scottish form of government.

I highly recommend this book. While historically accurate and presented in good taste, none the less the subject material is disturbing to consider in human terms.  It is interesting and well written and will directly appeal to Canadians of Scottish decent.

Wayne MacGregor Parker

 

 

Rob Roy - Book Review

Join us on Facebook

Can’t wait for the next newsletter to come out?  Check out our Facebook page.

In June 2020, we created a Community page for our Canadian chapter on Facebook.   Although all Scottish events were being cancelled all over the planet, the online world was very much coming alive! 

CASSOC kicked it off with a Celebration of Highland Games and Festivals in June. Fergus Scottish Festivals and Highland games moved online; it even featured a wee digital Ceilidh. 

Highland dancers, groups and associations held competitions online… there was and is still no shortage of Scottish events happening online.

The objective for our page is to allow us to interact more and have focus on information that is relevant to us. 

We have made the page public and allow you to create your own posts.  Note that all posts will be reviewed before they are published.

https://www.facebook.com/Canadian-Chapter-of-the-Clan-Gregor-Society-108670950894639

Gregors in the News

The following is an excerpt from a story by Jim Prime ('69), in the Acadia Bulletin, Spring 2020 edition, reprinted with permission.

In the wee hours of Sept 3, 1998, Major Dr. Trevor MacGregor Jain (CGS Member) was awakened by a phone call that would change his life forever.  At 10:36 the previous evening, Swissair flight 111, en route from New York’s JFK International Airport to Geneva, had crashed into the waters near Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, killing all 229 people on board.  Jain, an army reservist who was then in his final year at Dalhousie Medical School, has vivid memories of what followed.

“At 3:30 in the morning I got a call from the duty officer from Brigade Headquarters.  He said, ‘You’ve got to get up and turn on the news.  There has been a plane crash.’  I hung up on him because I knew him and thought he was playing a joke on me.  He called back and told me to report to Hangar B at CFB Shearwater.  He said that the RCMP were on their way to my apartment to pick me up and to get my uniform on.’”

When Jain arrived at the hangar, he was appointed pathology operations officer and told by Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer, John Butt, to get a morgue up and running.  He immediately went to work.  “The army teaches you how to be organized so I gathered the people-carpenters, electricians and others- around me and sketched out a diagram remembering what I needed for supplies to do autopsies from when I was a pathology assistant while at Acadia.  I said, ‘This is what we’re going to do and they did it.’”

Nothing can prepare you for an event like the Swissair disaster; But Jain possessed a unique set of skills that made him indispensable to Joint Task Force Atlantic.  By the time he graduated from Acadia in 1993 with a BSc in biology, Jain already had the kind of resume that demanded respect.  As part of the pre-med program, he was expected to volunteer at Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville.  While his colleagues took jobs at gift shops and other stress-free assignments, Jain opted for front line medical experience.  “I volunteered, believe it or not, in the pathology lab because of the microbiology component.  I participated in autopsies, was trained in doing them, and was even paid to do them on a part-time basis.

“That was why they contacted me.  I had worked in a morgue and had 12 years of infantry training,” he says.  “I had my pilot’s license so I was already an aviator, a pathology morgue manager, and an army officer (captain) when the plane went down.  I was qualified to do this.”

Jain has also served in Bosnia, Iraq and other world troubled spots.  “Of the five deployments that I’ve done, the morgue was the worst by far,” he says, and the horrific event has left a mark.  At random times, he still smells JP8jet fuel and doesn’t like flying over water.  “Sometimes when I shake someone’s hand, I find myself mentally dictating descriptions as if doing an autopsy.  The experience made me stronger, but more reflective.  I appreciate people more now.”

In 1999 Jain was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal of Canada by the Governor-General for the key role he played in the aftermath of Swissair 11. He is currently the Medical Director for paramedicine programs at Holland College on Prince Edward Island.  He is an attending emergency physician at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown and Clinical Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Dalhousie.

Jain is completing his PhD in disaster medicine and continues to serve in the army as the 36th Canadian Brigade Group Surgeon and Deputy Commanding Office of the PEI Regiment.  He has received many accolades throughout his career, but perhaps the most noteworthy is the Order of Military Merit (officer level), awarded in November 2018. 

It’s the second highest military honour presented by the Governor-General to recognize outstanding military service, and of the 26,000 people enlisted in the Canadian military at that time, Jain was one of only five to receive the clasp. 

To make it even more poignant, he was nominated for the honour by members of his own brigade.  Jan lives on Prince Edward Island with his wife and two daughters.

The King's Jaunt

The King’s Jaunt, as it was christened in August of 1822 also had another name – the “21 Daft Days”, during which time over 10,000 spectators, many in kilts, turned out on the Royal Mile for the first visit of a British king to Scotland in 140 years. George IV attended receptions, dinners, award ceremonies and threw a few banquets of his own. By all accounts Edinburgh was delirious!

Behind the scenes, the whole affair was planned, and largely paid for, by two men - Sir Walter Scott and Sir John MacGregor-Murray, with further military support mustered by General David Stewart of Garth.

A few years before, in 1817, Scott had written his much- acclaimed novel Rob Roy, which quickly became a best-seller throughout Europe, and as a result, Sir Walter went on a spending spree, building himself a splendid home in Scott country. In fact, upon entering Abbotsford, replete with weapons collections, paintings, Scott’s writing desk and relics of bygone eras, a guide was heard to say, “Welcome to the house that Rob Roy built!” Hence the connection we will celebrate in 2022. The novel and the celebration had the effect of propelling Clan Gregor from out of the shadows of lawlessness (Proscription had been lifted in 1774), and into the realm of martial fame and glory – all in a mere 50 years! With our name restored, some 822 gentlemen of the clan stepped forward to reclaim the name, although it is estimated that half of those who took other aliases did not take the name back.

Abbottsford House

 Fueled by the fervor of the day, the first clan Societies were established, with Clan Gregor third among all clans, in 1822. 2022 will mark the 200th anniversary of our founding.

There is a story, likely true, that Scott went to see King George in London, and by telling him something like ”You descend from ancient Scottish kings!” (quite a stretch!), he got George to put on a kilt! George loved the whole thing! So why were the MacGregors the Guard of Honor, guarding the King’s crown and jewels? John MacGregor-Murray’s influence derived from the colonial era in India, where MacGregor-Murray had served with the Bengal Army (a private enterprise supported by the British government – a system that worked out quite profitably for most parties involved, unless you were a Caliph!)

His title was Comptroller of the Bengal Army, which put him in charge of the money! If you haven’t read about the escapades which accompanied colonizing “the jewel in the Empire’s crown”, google Lord Clive sometime.

The rest I’ll leave to your imagination for the moment.

King George in 1822

 

.John’s son Evan MacGregor also served in India, following his father and commanding a MacGregor regiment at the beginning of the 19th century.  He looks quite good in the painting on page 14 (which hangs in the British Museum), but in fact he was badly wounded a few years earlier in taking the surrender (supposed) of Fort Talneir, an Indian stronghold in the Punjab. Cut fourteen times in the face and arms before his troops could reach him, it marked his retirement into more gentrified pursuits. His co>usin Peter, also a ranking member of the Glencarnoch family, was killed defending him.

 The MacGregors did not hesitate to hang the Caliph over the outside wall and destroy the entire garrison, taking no prisoners. On his return to Scotland, Sir Evan was made Governor of the Windward Isles (Caribbean), and therein lies another story! Still, it was Evan who led 150 MacGregors, resplendent as the Guard of Honor in their new red kilts, who bore the king’s regalia (crown and scepter) up to Edinburgh castle, where they are on display today.

Sadly, his father, John MacGregor-Murray died two months before the King arrived in Scotland.

Keith MacGregor (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

King George in 1822 

 

Dues, SCIO & Recipe

Important Reminder

Membership renewals for 2021 are soon due and I would appreciate your prompt payment. Please send your $39.00 cheque to CGSCC, PO Box 232, Dorset, ON P0A 1E0. Keep in mind that you can renew for five years for the price of four ($156.00).  Alternately you can pay by e-transfer to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Your prompt attention to this will be much appreciated.

If I don’t receive your subscription by the end of May I will send you an email reminder. I’m a volunteer with a day job and it’s always nice to have prompt renewals without repeated appeals. Many thanks.                                                                                                     

Wayne MacGregor Parker 

Notice to members of CGS  - Please Join the SCIO

(reprinted from clangregor.com/join-the-scio)

 The latest Newsletter ( No. 91 Winter 2020 ) contains an article about our change to a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (Clan Gregor Society SCIO).

The article explains that automatic transfer of membership from the current Society to the SCIO is not possible. Each member of the Society must apply for membership of the SCIO, using the form included with the newsletter or via the pdf version at the link below. The validity of membership subscriptions will be carried over, so the only thing CGS members need to do is submit the application form.   It is essential for everyone to complete the form.

After becoming a member of the SCIO, and while the current Clan Gregor Society remains in existence, each member will be a member of both organisations.

The downloadable pdf version of the form can be completed on your computer, and returned by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  There is no need to send a paper copy as well.

Application to transfer membership to SCIO form fill

The form gives the essential information required for the new members’ register and the consent required by UK data protection legislation for the SCIO to use your personal data for the purposes stated. It also has two optional fields. One is to give a mobile telephone / cellphone number to provide another way of contacting you. The other is to give your occupation or qualification to indicate what particular help you might be able to provide to the SCIO.

Please type your name in the box after “Signed”, as this is acceptable in an electronic application.  Thank you. 

MacGregor’s Venison Collops  

(adapted from Mary MacGregor’s Scottish Cook Book)

  • Small-medium venison roast sliced in ½” thick slabs
  • Large onion sliced
  • 6 mushrooms sliced
  • 2 Tbls flour with seasoned salt ( I use Old Bay or seasoned salt mix)
  • Generous spoonful of bacon grease, butter or lard
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • ½ cup rich beef stock
  • ¼ cup red wine ( I used Dubonnet) and small shot of whisky
  • ½ cup bread crumbs and ½ cup oatmeal

In small Dutch oven or covered pot melt grease and lightly sauté onions on stove top. Thoroughly coat meat in seasoned flour mix and place in pan on top of onions. Cook for a couple of minutes or until showing brown on both sides. Put mushrooms on top. Pour in stock and wine. Lightly stir in bread crumbs and oats, leaving meat and onions on the bottom as much as possible. 

Cover and place in 350-400 oven. In about 15 mins check on meat, pour in shot of whisky while gently stirring up the contents to mix in the oats and crumbs.

Place back in oven and pull out whenever you feel the meat is properly cooked, usually around 20 minutes for me for rare to medium rare. 

Recipe calls for placing meat and gravy over hot buttered mash potatoes and serve with green vegetables.  We really liked placing on top of Wild rice cooked with pinch of rosemary and Old Bay/seasoned salt.

Recipe calls for serving with Rowan/currant jelly. 

Moose or beef can be substituted for venison. This recipe is a bonnie treat!

Enjoy.                               

Wayne MacGregor Parker

 

 

New Gregors

New Gregor

Presenting two new Gregors.  We hope to have this as a regular feature so  please feel free to send your announcements and pics for new additions to:

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MacGregor's Bar & The Royal McGregor

Closing of the Royal McGregor

It is with a heavy heart that we need to inform our dear customers that the Royal McGregor will not be re-opened by the McGregor family who have operated the site for the past 20 years.

With only 18 months left on our current lease the COVID-19 pandemic could not have come at a worse time. Despite our best efforts our landlord would not agree to a lease extension which would have made continuing to trade a viable option.

We have shared so many wonderful memories with our loyal customers, family and amazing staff and will miss you all dearly. Thank you for being part of our success story, we will forever be grateful.

Please share any pictures you have either enjoying our hospitality or working with us. It would be nice reminisce!                       

Best wishes for the future.

James & Marie-Claude             
https://www.facebook.com/TheRoyalMcGregor/
https://www.royalmcgregor.co.uk/

MacGregor's Bar Inverness

All is not be lost though, as there is another strong namesake establishment in Inverness.  MacGregor's Bar Inverness.  
MacGregor’s has won national recognition including Best Live Music Bar (Scottish License Trade Awards, 2019/2020) and Best Bar in Scotland (Scottish Thistle, 2018/2019).
They also have a lively Facebook on which they share live sessions of traditional folk music.
“Scotland's modern-day bar, is the place for an adventure in taste, in culture and music. It’s a gathering place to share stories, life and laughter, whilst savouring some of the best food and drink produced in Scotland.
“We are passionate and proud about Scotland's history and culture, and just as importantly, we are excited about Scotland's leading role in the craft beer and spirit revolution. We rejoice in the way our chefs enhance our natural larder using the flare of the world's finest culinary experts. Ask any of the staff for advice on beers, spirits or food and drink pairings. They love to help.”

 

   

Scots and Gregors in Canada

Editor’s note: The following article was provided to the Clan Gregor Society Australasia for use on their website and publications. 

Scots and Gregors in Canada

The Clan Gregor Society Canada Chapter is alive and well. Established by Council in 2012, our Chapter has realized steady and meaningful growth. Today we have over 70 members and are active and well represented in widespread celebrations of Canada’s Scottish roots. We are fortunate in having literally thousands of ways to engage in our Scottish heritage. The blood is Highland, and it is strong.

Here are a few interesting facts to consider when looking at Canada’s ties to Scotland. Canada has the highest percentage of people of Scottish decent of any nation in the world outside of Scotland itself. In his book, Great Scots! How the Scots Invented Canada, author Matthew Shaw offers that Canada is Scotland’s answer to British rule as it provided an outlet for the ambition and ingenuity of Scottish immigrants, and in the process, the Scots built a great nation.

Scottish explorers, traders and pioneers were the vanguard of entrepreneurs opening up this vast rugged land.  “In politics, and in particular the act of Confederation the Scottish genius shone the brightest. Indeed, Canada’s existence as an independent state in North America , a nation apart from the American super power, is a balancing act that owes much to a Scottish sense of the possible, the Scottish style of management and their own long history of living in the lee of a great power.”(1)

The hardship of centuries of oppression, thriving in a harsh climate, the challenges of land ownership, the tenacity of a free thinking, industrious people, and the lessons learned during the systematic dismemberment of the clan system, “… combined to make the Scots in Canada a dynamic and inexorable force….Scottish adventurers mapped out the country and laid the foundations for future settlement. Scottish politicians … steered Canada’s early growth and development and bent the country to their will. Scots dominated commerce, including heavy industry, banking and merchandizing. In fact, three quarters of commercial capital in the nineteenth century was firmly controlled by Scottish magnates.

Scottish teachers and academics established educational institutions, including Canada’s first universities, along Scottish lines and led Canada’s educational revolution. In fields such as the arts, the military, science, the labour movement, and the media, Scottish hegemony and influence are no less impressive. When we actually examine the vast array of Scottish achievements in Canada …How the Scots created Canada... does not seem so outlandish after all.

In a very real sense, the Scots did have a disproportionately large hand in creating our country. Their ubiquity in every field of endeavour, the surprising extent of their power and influence, and their lasting impact on Canadian society and culture are truly one of the great and largely unexplored chapters in the story of Canada.”(2)

Today, Scottish influence remains firmly in place and visible in many aspects of daily life in Canada. Our maps are dotted with familiar names from the home country. Highland Games, Burns celebrations, curling, dancing and piping are common in towns and cities across the nation. At one time most major Highland regiments were represented in Canadian detachments sharing tartans and traditions down to the last detail. The final stop before the World Piping championship in Edinburgh is Maxville Ontario, where over 60 bands compete for the North American Pipe Band honours each August. And the list goes on.

A little research reveals that Gregors have figured prominently in Canadian history. John McGregor became one of the first permanent residents in Canada in 1773 when the Hector landed in Nova Scotia. The cedar canoe, long considered to be a unique and quintessential Canadian icon, exploded its worldwide popularity in 1866 after John Macgregor published a book on canoeing in his canoe, the Rob Roy.  His book became an overnight best seller in England, United States and Canada and popularized the recreational canoeing we know today.  Captain John MacGregor was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military award in the British Commonwealth, for his extreme bravery in World War I.

Without question, many unsung MacGregors played roles in Canadian history and we need to understand and honour their achievements both modest and bold.  With such a rich and proud heritage, our Chapter works to bring together Gregors within the ties of this great Commonwealth nation. We are dedicated to learning our history and better understanding our past.  We look for opportunities to take the unique history and heritage of Clan Gregor to new generations with fresh insights and approaches.

We Children of the Mist are stepping out of the shrouds of Canadian history and working today to bring together Gregors of that ilk.

Wayne MacGregor Parker

Chapter Chairman

(1) The Honourable Duff Robin P.C., C.C., O.M., L.L.

(2) How the Scots Created Canada, Matthew Shaw, Heartland Associates, 1964.

 

 

Sister Chapters

Sister Chapters - Clan Gregor Society Australasia

The Society is well represented in Australia and New Zealand with an active and growing membership base in both countries.

Because Australia and New Zealand have a high Scottish demographic, Highland Gatherings and Scottish themed events are popular in every state of Australia and both the islands of New Zealand.

This gives the Clan Gregor Society ample opportunity to set up the Clan Tent throughout both our regions as it proves to be our most popular and successful way of interacting with our members and recruiting new members.

Because of the sheer size of Australia, it is impossible for the Official Clan Representative to attend gatherings in every state so it is the ambition for Clan Gregor Australia to have an official representative in every state and so far, we have been successful in having representatives in New South Wales, Victoria Tasmania and Queensland.

New Zealand has been successful in finding a representative for both the North and South Island to assist the Official Representative Mr Iain Stockwell.

Another bonus for the Society is having Clan Gregor Pipers in most states, in particular NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

Clan Gregor Australasia welcomes new members so for particulars about joining the Society please write to the Overseas Representative of the Clan Gregor Society, Frank McGregor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or go to our website: www.clangregor.com

I will leave you with the words of Sir Walter Scott, “While there’s leaves in the forest and foam on the river, MacGregor despite them shall flourish forever!”

(Image: facebook.com/clangregoraustralia/)

 

Tales of Wild Duncan

Tales of 'Wild Duncan' McGregor

Duncan McGregor was the brother of our great-great-grandfather John McGregor and great-uncle of our grandfather.  He was known for his feats of strength.  Among folk in the district and to his descendants, direct and indirect, he is known as 'Wild Duncan'.

The following are anecdotes about Duncan. I am typing the words directly, quoting from the work of Mr. Perkins Bull. Mr. Bull collected newspaper clippings of obituaries, marriages, and reunions and interviewed old folk in the district in the 1920's to 1930's.

He also made-up questionnaires to be answered. In short, he was a first-rate local historian. His papers are now in the Ontario Archives. They have been microfilmed: there is a set of the films in the Archives and one in the Chinguacousy Branch of the Brampton Public Library. The files are organized by surname. Thus, beside McGregor, there are anecdotes on Wilkinson and Standing as well. Hope you enjoy the following.

Interview with Mr. James Robson

"I remember hearing many stories of Dunc McGregor. One night he heard a noise in his house, and he went down cellar, and there he found a burglar, with his pockets full of Dunc's butter from the prints. Dunc didn't say much to him but made him come upstairs and he put some logs on the stove and made a real hot fire and then had the burglar sit close to it. Of course, the butter melted and ran down the burglar.

"One day Dunc walked into the hotel at Campbell's Cross.  This was when he was a fairly old man. He had a big sack of apples with him. He brought them into the hotel and turned down the sack around the edges until all the apples were nicely displayed. All the boys started helping themselves and I was outside looking through the window at this.

Then I saw Dunc go round locking all the doors and he got out a whip and he started flogging the boys and my! he made those boys skip and jump and he said "I'll learn you boys to take apples that don't belong to you

"Another story I have heard but which I am not prepared to vouch for was that Dunc carried a barrel of beer in a wager up the stairs to the verandah and threw it over.

"He met a man one day on the Etobicoke Bridge and he said to him. "Look here if you can throw your boot as far up the river as I can I'll throw you in." to which the man replied that there was no use in him trying because he knew he couldn't do it before he started. However, Dunc insisted, and the man took off his boot and threw it and of course Dunc threw his farther and so he did pick the man up and throw him in.

"Of course, this Duncan McGregor was just full of deviltry and always doing something like that. A person could tell stories about him all night. I am not prepared to say that any of the above stories were true. They are just what I have heard.

"Dunc and John, the two McGregor brothers lived across the road from each other and both became extremely wealthy men. In fact, Dunc died wealthy. Dunc's son Malcolm was a very clever fellow and went into the lumbering business up north. Dunc owned 350 acres of land in Caledon when he died. However, his son Malcolm went through most of it."

Fighting Days in Peel Now a Fireside Memory Caledon

Duncan McGregor, a dour Scot from Caledon Township, earned a widespread reputation as a man to avoid, although it is said to his credit that he rarely started trouble.  He usually ended it, however. His opponents would find themselves crushed in an embrace that would have surprised a bear. McGregor could lift a three-hundred-pound barrel of salt from the ground into the high wagons of his day with as little effort as the average man could heft a 100-pound bag of flour. One instance of his reputation for strength recites that he met three husky inebriates at Mono Mills one afternoon. The inebriated parties started a dispute and were all for a pitched battle. McGregor casually mentioned his name, and the warlike three turned and ran before McGregor made any move to step down from his cart.

McGregor met Jack Leary, bucko of Chinguacousy Township, at a tavern near Edmonton now Snelgrove, one night. Leary had tilted the glass once or twice at another tavern, and entering the room, offered to fight any man within twenty miles for $20.00. "I'll take ye," said McGregor from a dark corner of the room. "And who are you?" Leary inquired, swaggering over to the corner. "M name's McGregor, Duncan McGregor." "Ah'll have nothing to do with ye," said Leary. McGregor gently intimated that it would be a good idea for Leary to put up the drinks for the house, which Jack did. He did not wait, however, to drink with McGregor. He left.

Notes from Mr. Jos. Williams

"Mr. Jos. Williams remembers when they used to team grain from Caledon, east and west, to Port Credit. There was the McGregors and the Campbells and you couldn't go down too early in the morning to see a good scrap. One incident was that this McGregor played a trick on his neighbour. This neighbour had a load of grain ready to go to market the next morning and McGregor thought it was a good joke to go up and unload it after he had gone to bed. So, McGregor went up and unloaded the grain and put the wagon up straddle the ridge of the barn and then carried the grain up and loaded it all up again and hung a lantern on the end of it.

In the morning about 4 or 5 o'clock when the man got up to hitch up and take his load to town, he found out it was gone from the back door so he struck down to Dunc McGregor's. "Well", Dunc says, "Are you ready? Let's get away quick, I got to see a fellow down at Port Credit." And the man told him that his load of grain was stolen. Well Dunc says "Let's go on, you come with me and maybe we will catch up to. the person that took it". When they got down the road quite a piece, Dunc looked bac'1c, and he says, "What's that light back there, is that on your barn?" "By Jove it is", the man said.  "I'll bet my barn is on fire." So, he hurried back and when he got back to the barn he seen it was the lantern hanging on the back of his load of grain up on the ridge of the barn.  This was a Halloween trick that Dunc played on his neighbour and when the man got to town, him and Dunc settled it in the good old-fashioned way.  It was a good fight, but they broke even, neither one of them was badly damaged.

"They never seemed to go to bed in Brampton. No matter what time of night, you went down the street, you could always see a good fight."

Interview with Mr. Fred Haines, Cheltenham McGregors and McDonalds

"These people were quite a hardy crowd. I never saw them fight myself, but I used to often hear my father tell stories about them.

"McGregor was a very strong man. I remember hearing that one time he was out in front of the grocery store and there was a bag of salt lying there. He said to the storekeeper, "I could pick up that bag of salt and carry it off to my sleigh". The old fellow picked it up and walked off with it. I don't remember this happening myself, my father told me about it."

Annual Report of Peel Women's Institute Historical Research and Current Events

"Among the earliest settlers in this locality were the MacDonalds in the Mountain, who came in the latter part of the 18th century. The Smith's who settled on what is now known as the Brick-yard at Inglewood the McGregor's above Inglewood in 1820. The McColls in 1828. The McClarens and Balmers about the same time."

Archie McCall - Inglewood

"Duncan McGregor Sr. had a fine trotting horse named Tarry. He was always entered in the trots at the Caledon and Erin Fall Fairs.  His son Duncan, was a fine driver and always drove a horse named Buckskin, owned by George Patterson, who now resides in Brampton."

Interview with T.M. Elliott, Cheltenham Re: Gang Fights

"The McGregors and the McDonalds used to have gang fights, but I don't mind much about them. A fellow by the name of McGregor could stand and jump and kick the ceiling in the hotel."

Interview with Miss A.

"Have you any record of Duncan McGregor of Caledon who was a rabid Grit of samsonian strength?" "I did not see this but heard about it at bine(?). In those days when the Tories ruled in Peel with overwhelming strength, when John Millard Campbell and John Coyne were almightly, Dunc used to come for his supplies.

Outside of Chisholm and Elliott's store on the sidewalk were to be found barrels of salt in rows piled two deep. One day a lanky Tory said something politically unpleasant to Dunc who walked up to a prostrate 300 lb. barrel of salt gripped it by its rim in his teeth, and threw it over his head into the back of his sleigh- and­ proceeded to tie his tormentors into a bow knot which he might have done had it not been for the pleadings of his own friends."

Reference:

McGregor file on microfilm Perkins Bull Collection

Genealogical Section, Chinguacousy Branch Brampton Public Library

Elizabeth McDonald

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Researched: July 2004

Transcribed: December 2007

Editors Note:   Elizabeth welcomes your feedback and  your stories you can share

 

CGSCC 2020 Scholarship Award

CGSC - Scholarship Award Presentation

In choosing Jenna to receive this award, the committee noted the following: 

Jenna’s involvement in both a leadership and teaching role with the Band is a very positive factor and is one of the prime criteria used in our selection. This demonstrates devotion not only to one’s personal achievements, but also to the promotion of Highland art and culture by passing on knowledge and skills to a younger generation.

We also recognize the financial strain of University attendance and given the high priority we assign to post-secondary education, it is our feeling that the award could be best utilized by Jenna toward achieving her goals. It would be interesting to know what education and career path she has chosen to pursue.

Given this important point in Jenna’s life, it must be recognized that this may be the last opportunity we have to acknowledge the time and effort she has devoted to the Band.

With all of this in consideration, we select Jenna Wood as the award recipient.

 
Congratulations Jenna!


CGSCC Scholarship Thank you

To the Clan Gregor Society of Scotland – Canada Chapter

January 27th, 2020

As the Rob Roy Pipe Band and Highland Dancer’s recipient of the Clan Gregor Society Canada Scholarship Award I feel very honoured and happy to have been chosen for this Award and would like to thank you and your committee very much for selecting me.

I am currently in Grade 12 and as yet undecided which career path to take, I plan to return to school in the Fall in order to take some extra courses, work and travel before attending College/University the following year.   This award will be safely invested until then.

With my sincere gratitude for this generous support.

Yours sincerely

Jenna Wood

 

The Dalmally Stones

By Keith MacGregor,  Clan Gregor Society - North American  Representative  

Location

The Dalmally stones and their discovery and preservation have been the most important archaeological research the Society has ever carried out.  For those of you new to the Society and to CGSCC, I’d like to offer these highlights on our monuments over the past twenty years, especially because your chapter has a special connection here.

The inspiration for Richard McGregor, Chairman and Keith MacGregor, North American Representative, began with the Brydale papers, a set of traveler’s notes and sketches (Figure 1) by Thomas Brydale, buried deep in Scotland’s archives. Brydale records a number of medieval carved stones lying in the Dalmally churchyard.      

 

With that, it was our good fortune to possess The Book of the Dean of Lismore, compiled by the clan’s own James MacGregor, Dean of Lismore during the 16th century.  This medieval gem contained a number of early bardic poems from the oral tradition, and the Obituaries (Figure 2): biographical material on MacGregor chiefs, circa 1390-1529.   These sources became the basis for the Dalmally Stones Project, which owes much to contributions from individual donors, the majority of whom are members of SEUS.

Sketches

Obit

Our first object was to identify the in situ locations of these medieval stones in the churchyard, which became something of a treasure hunt.  They had at one time been inside the first church on the site, which was almost definitely built by the MacGregors centuries ago.  

Our studies revealed the partial walls of that church, within the present one (Figure 3).  

Outline

 

“The graveyard is of national importance because of its collection of Medieval grave slabs and for its potential to provide archaeological information relating to the Medieval and seventeenth-century churches which previously occupied the site.” -   Statement of Importance by the Scottish government

The Reformation in Scotland led by John Knox was particularly cruel in the Highlands, where religion-as-politics provided a convenient excuse for harrying the Highland clans, most of whom remained Catholic.  In 1560, the Campbells announced their Protestant “conversion”, practically overnight, resulting in what the Campbells themselves called “The MacGregor Wars’.

In 1615 Black Duncan Campbell rebuilt the church and ordered the MacGregor stones tossed outside. Pre-Reformation altars, viewed as heretical, were often buried where they stood in order to erase the past. We believe that was done at this location, and we had the Dean’s identification for where our chiefs were buried, on both sides of that altar, over 600 years ago. 

We determined to use Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and magnetometers to “map” the entire floor of the church and the entranceway, which had been the altar for the period we were searching.

GPR in Church

The carved gravestones (SM 3810) at Glenorchy Church are considered to be of the Loch Awe school and different from other regional carvings such as the Iona school (Caldwell et al 2010).  They are similar to Stones at Kilmartin which, it is speculated, were carved from designs found in a Templar manual. They represent a level of artistic expertise/design far above other schools of stone-carving in the Medieval period.

What this GPR reading suggests that there are a number of larger anomalies (Figure 4 - outlined in orange), in the area of first high altar.  These correlated almost perfectly with the descriptions the Dean had recorded.

Burials

Conservation management studies showed that the stones had been exposed to the elements for some time, and some had been chipped by mowers. Our recommended plan of action for conserving heritage value and through discussions with all interested parties, we opted to move the stones into the sanctuary area of the church.  That process would take years, going from “No” across the board from ministers, church elders, and local historical groups, but we remained determined, as some will recall.

Following extensive presentations and documentation of our findings over many years, we were delighted to hear the decision of the Dalmally Church Elders. Here is the August 2015 Extract from the Kirk Session minutes:

“MacGREGOR RESOLUTION:  A letter received from the Clan MacGregor was read out asking for Kirk Session permission to reposition gravestones presently in the churchyard. The document, agreed to and signed by the clerk, asserts that the Elders are happy to support the proposal subject to subsequent discussions as to the exact location of the stones within the church.”   EUREKA!

“The Dalmally Stones project is alive and well and moving towards completion”.  I wrote that to update our membership in early 2019, little knowing the catastrophe that lay ahead.  We had just entered yet another revision of the required application, for Historic Scotland - one “final” hurdle to actually moving the stones. A significant grant from the government was necessary to achieve the estimated to cost - some 88,000 GBP.  This also meant that all monies the Society had collected from donors would go to the project, a magnificent gesture from our clan at that time. 

Glenorchy Church

We hoped to have the stones project done by next summer, and while the wheels of Historic Environment Scotland were turning, the incalculable impact of COVID-19 hit the world.  With that, it appeared that much of the Scottish government’s spending had been ”locked down”. We received a terse one sentence statement from them stating “Need to see more community involvement.  Thank you – please re-apply.” That’s doubletalk for “we’re not spending anything right now”!

Though it seems the battle is never over, MacGregor bonds of clanship and a deep sense of heritage binds us.  It does not diminish – certainly not in this clan as history clearly shows. It is now our goal to see the Stones standing inside Dalmally church for our International Gathering in 2022, or 2023 (just in case), for all to see.

One more item here - the Dalmally stones project has now become instrumental in actually saving Dalmally church from being shuttered.  With less and less church attendance in Scotland each year, the Church of Scotland is currently looking at closing a number of rural churches, usually medieval and in need of repair.  It turns out Dalmally was on the short list with two other nearby churches.  By our actions in petitioning to move these registered medieval monuments (the stones) into the church, itself is a landmarked building, and by highlighting their historic importance to Clan Gregor, we have generated a value and purpose for that site which does not exist for the others.  Optimism dictates that our efforts may keep the doors in Dalmally glen open for a long time to come!

*Special thanks goes to our supporters – Ms JoAnn Pippin, Pat Skelton, Inez & Suzanne Boothe and their families, Fred Smith, Bob Terpening and all who have donated. 

For further inquiries, please contact Keith MacGregor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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